The Western Reserve Academy softball team had a rough season as several cancellations and an early season losing streak kept the Pioneers from building any momentum, but the team hung together and closed the year with a two-game winning streak.
After defeating St. Thomas Aquinas to open the month of May, the Pioneers saw their next four games cancelled before they were able to take the field and close out the year with a 22-8 win over John Adams High School.
Alex Eliopoulos ’12 (pictured) earned the team’s Most Valuable Player Award at the spring Athletic Awards ceremony.
“Alex was a terrific player from the start of her WRA career,” said coach Aimee Zimmerman. “As a freshman, joining an extremely talented and veteran team, she quickly earned a spot in right field. Alex was patient and waited for her time, but it didn’t take long before she started in every game and played almost every position for us – she even tried her hand at pitching when we were without any experienced pitchers. She never complained when we moved her throughout the field, but she settled in quite well for us at shortstop.
“Alex is naturally talented, but she worked hard to improve offensively and defensively. This year she led the team across the board in all offensive statistics, including a batting average of .550, an impressive number. She also hit the first and only homerun over our new fence. She learned from her role models and developed into a great team captain, earning the respect of all her teammates. We will have a big hole to fill with her departure, and I will miss seeing her parents at every game, always providing encouragement to all the girls.”
Morgan Lightcap ’14 was named Most Improved Player.
“Morgan came out for the team with little prior experience playing softball,” Zimmerman said. “She had a terrific attitude from the start and was willing to work hard to improve. Being the tallest girl on the team, she was a natural fit at first base. The other infielders were extremely helpful and encouraging, and before you knew it, Morgan caught almost everything thrown at her. Offensively, she was aggressive and fought hard every at bat. She is coachable and smart, and I expect great things from her in the years to come.”
The Coaches/Spirit Award went to co-captain Monica Mehta ’12.
“Monica was a team leader who always accepted coaching and feedback in a positive manner,” Zimmerman said. “I knew I could use her as an example to teach the other girls, even if it meant pointing out her mistakes. Throughout the season, we continuously drilled infield balls to get Monica to field in the correct position, instead of to the side, how she often preferred. During a game, a ball struck her in the shin, because she wasn’t in position. Though she was in pain, she smiled and nodded over at (assistant coach) Julie Pratt and me, acknowledging she fielded the ball incorrectly.
“Monica was determined to improve at her new position, third base, and by the end of the year, she earned our defensive player of the game for her amazing plays against St. Thomas. She made great progress as a three-year varsity letter winner, and was ultimately one of our best offensive players this year, achieving an on-base percentage of almost .400.”
The Pioneers only lose two players to graduation from the team, which will be captained next year by Cheyenne Gibbons ’13 and Leila Barbeau ’13.
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